Moments of readable goodness from March

No shorts this time, mostly because I was on a novel binge, but also because not many of the shorts I did manage to read made much of an impression. Disappointed not to get to the new Interzone, but delighted to be 3/5 of the way through the BSFA shortlist and all are worth a recommendation here.

The Dervish House by Ian McDonald – was simply glorious. Intriguing in its depiction of a city and culture largely foreign to me, compelling in its plots and mysteries and genuinely engaging on a human level as regards a cast of characters whose company I just didn’t want to have to leave.

Zoo City by Lauren Beukes – was a surprise to me. Don’t know much about Beukes and haven’t read her previous Angry Robot outing (Moxyland), but I really loved this one too. Main character, Zinzi December, has exactly the right balance of sarcastic bravura and inner fragility. And, again, the blend of a stunningly evoked, unfamiliar location (this time, Johannesburg) and genre weirdness (African magic and criminals lumped with animal familiars) is a winning combination.

Lightborn by Tricia Sullivan – I’d read a few of Sullivan’s early books (Dreaming In Smoke, being a favourite), so I was looking forward to this one. Probably the highest concept out of these three, and explored in great detail. Loved the societally decimated urban setting in which most of the action takes place too. Points off from a personal point of view because I don’t really enjoy books with children as viewpoint characters, but a strong book nonetheless.

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